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Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy celebrates 119 graduates

The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy is a volunteer program for students who have, or are on the verge of, dropping out of high school.

BOISE, Idaho — 119 cadets walked across the stage Friday as the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy (IDYCA) celebrated its commencement at Calvary Chapel in Boise.

The 22-week volunteer program gives students who are on the verge of dropping out of high school, or already have, a second chance. Friday's graduation marked the academy's 17th class. 

"I've never really accomplished anything in my life. I never really went start to finish in about anything," IDYCA Staff Sergeant Henneman said. "So, to me and my family, this means more than the world."

The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy holds two classes per year and around 350 teens between the age of 16 and 18 apply for each class.

IDYCA Commandant, Guy Bonner, said the organization is a quasi-military residential high school academy. Since the program began in January 2014, 1,701 cadets have graduated from IDYCA. 

"They're here because they're typically behind on credits, things of that nature," Bonner said. "They're just trying to catch back up and recover lost ground and some of them recover lost ground and actually get ahead. It's a pretty neat thing."

According to IDYCA's website, the program utilizes, "discipline and structure, to ensure a productive learning environment." IDYCA is a division of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program 

The graduating cadets will now go back to finish high school or start their careers. A few of the cadets even said they plan to join the Air Force. 

"This program has helped me prepare for the future by showing me how I can be successful and teaching me grit and maturity," Michael Ryan Woods said.

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